Exclusive Interview with James Lantz, writer of “The Bus”


James Lantz

James Lantz discusses his play, The Bus, which will be published in the second issue of Proscenium Journal later this week. 

What was your inspiration for this play?

A few years ago there was a spate of heartbreaking suicides of gay teens, and some of them had a connection to a church or religion, and the whole thing just made me profoundly sad and angry at the same time. Then this image of a parked bus came to me, and it wouldn’t leave. And that’s where it started. Writing is such a beautiful and mysterious thing.

What playwrights have inspired you?

Instead, can I tell you a filmmaker that I’m inspired by? Alfred Hitchcock has been my cinematic teacher and idol. As a storyteller, he was brilliant. I love how he was constantly experimenting, pushing against boundaries and threw plausibility out the window. His masterpiece, ‘Vertigo,’ is one of the least plausible stories ever — and yet, like a brilliant magician, Hitchcock leaves you spellbound so that you never think how unrealistic it all is. I love his sense of humor and innuendo, his artistry and fearless digging into psychological themes.

What kind of stories excite you?

You can’t Google a feeling. The world is already full of knowledge and it’s right at our fingertips all of the time and there’s something insanely numbing about all this information. But a story that evokes feelings, passion or, what David Foster Wallace once wrote as being ‘an erection of the heart’ — that’s the kind of story that makes me want to be alive and stay alive, and I can’t get enough of.

What projects are you working on now?

I make my living as a filmmaker so I’ve got a few film projects I’m working on including a couple of documentaries. I’m also writing a new play and am working to adapt part of “The Bus” into a short film. I just finished writing the script and have started sending it out to producers and actors.

What advice do you have for playwrights starting out?

Instead of advice, I have admiration, tons of respect, and two lines from a Robert Frost poem that hang above my desk:

“Here are your waters and your watering place.

Drink and be whole again beyond confusion.”

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